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Wisconsin announces first managed elk hunt

More than two decades after wild elk were reintroduced to northern Wisconsin, the state Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday that it will hold an elk hunting season this fall.

It's the first managed elk hunt in state history and will mark the first elk hunting in Wisconsin since the late 1800s when the animals, once common, were extirpated from the state by settlers.

Wisconsin reintroduced 25 elk from Michigan to the Clam Lake area of southern Ashland County in 1995 and their numbers have slowly but surely built up to about 200 animals this year — enough to allow a limited harvest, the DNR said.

Ten elk hunting license tags will be made available for a bull-only hunt in fall 2018. Four tags will be awarded to Wisconsin residents through a random drawing. One additional tag will be awarded to a Wisconsin resident through a raffle conducted by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The other five tags will go to the six Wisconsin Chippewa tribes.

"This is an incredible conservation success story for Wisconsin," Dan Meyer, Department of Natural Resources secretary, said in announcing the hunt Tuesday. "Thanks to the efforts of so many great organizations and individuals, the northern elk herd has continued to grow to the point where we can offer this very special and long-awaited hunting opportunity."

The area of the planned hunt is within Sawyer, Bayfield, Ashland and Price counties. The state will not yet allow hunting at its second elk reintroduction site in central Wisconsin's Jackson County.

"We look forward to the opportunity for Chippewa members and state hunters to have a harvest season," said Chris McGeshick, chairman of the Sokaogon Chippewa Community, in a statement.

The season will be open from Oct. 13 to Nov. 11 and Dec. 13-21. Only Wisconsin residents are eligible to purchase an elk tag. The application fee is $10 and applications will be available starting May 1 at GoWild.wi.gov. All drawing winners will be required to complete an elk hunter education course prior to the start of the season.

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